With the Oakland Raiders on a bye this week, they will sit and watch as their path to the playoffs is laid out before them. The bye week will give Coach Jack Del Rio a chance to figure out how he and his team will recover from a dismal first nine weeks of the season and how he will make the necessary adjustments to make a run at the playoffs. The Raiders are on the outside looking in at the moment, but the view from where they stand is clear, and the path to the playoffs is a manageable one.
The Oakland Raiders Postseason Roadmap
Scoring More Points
According to ESPN, through nine weeks the Raiders rank tenth overall in points scored with 196. Not a bad showing for a team that is sitting idle in week ten with a losing record (4-5).
There is an issue, however, and it is one that may cost Oakland a shot at the playoffs if not addressed soon. Four out of the seven remaining opponents on the Raiders schedule have outscored the Silver and Black this year. If left unaddressed, a 7-9 record may be the reality for a team that began the season as Super Bowl favorites.
So how does a team like the Raiders score more points? The simple answer is a better rushing attack, but that answer may be a bit too simple for what’s going on in Oakland.
The Raiders rank a lowly 24th in rushing yards this year in spite of having Marshawn Lynch leading the backfield in carries.
However; despite their issues running the ball, Oakland ranks seventh in receiving yards. That’s not bad, but a talented offense like the Raiders should be ranked higher.
The strength of this team is their quarterback and their two outstanding wide receivers. Derek Carr, Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper have managed to put together a decent season thus far, but they should be ranked at the top in terms of passing offense.
Their shortcomings are the fault of the running game and the lack of respect opposing defenses have for it. That and the surprisingly ineffective play of both Carr and Cooper.
If the Raiders are going to compete for a Wild Card spot, or even the AFC West title, the run game will have to improve to free up one of the most dynamic passing attacks in the league.
Through nine weeks, the Raiders are the only team in football without an interception. If they are to compete this has to change, and it has to change in a hurry.
The secondary problems in Oakland are well known; they have been there for years. And even with the influx of young talent through the draft, this unit is still one of the worst in the league.
If defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. can’t figure out a way to take generate some turnovers, this team is going to have some rough sledding in the coming weeks.
Improve Overall Defensive Play
Oakland owns the worst DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) in the league. That means that when taking every single play into consideration, they are as bad as it gets through nine weeks.
— DFS Karma (@DFS_Karma) November 9, 2017
With a low-end running game and the worst DVOA in the NFL thus far, the Raiders are not built to last deep into the playoffs. That’s assuming they make it at all.
However, if Del Rio and his coaching staff can figure out a way to fix these glaring issues, the Raiders can be legit contenders.
Will it be easy? No. But nothing worth doing ever is.